Last updated on 14th July 2019
The massive mountain with its distinctive cut over its entire height near Ella is Ella Rock. It is also the highest mountain in this area. Climbing Ella Rock is easy and a must for everyone visiting Ella. So did we. It was on our bucket list for the very first day. It is a hike of about 5km – 2,5h for us – we took our time to walk slow and take in the beautiful landscape around us. There are several ways leading to the path that finally climbs the mountain, all are similar in difficulty and length. We started walking along the railway tracks towards Kital Ella Railway Station and took a sharp left turn about 500m after that station, crossing a river, walking across rice fields and tea plantations and finally climbed the last more difficult part through the forest onto the top.
From the summit, roughly 1360m above sea level, the stunning view made us forget all efforts. There was Little Adams Peak right in front of us surrounded by the mountainous landscape of the Sri Lankan Highlands. An old lady awaited us with refreshing drinks. I tried the pineapple juice, she mashes the fruit just with the strength of her hands, and it becomes a really tasty fruitful juice, just wonderful after the tiring climb. A little further along that path is another viewpoint with a Buddha statue. From there Ravana Falls can be seen. On the way back we took another route, it took the same time.
Ravana Waterfall and Ravana Cave
Ravana Falls are about 6km south of Ella on the main road. Nearly every bus going south passes the falls. It is a very popular place among tourists and locals. And truly the falls are impressive. But very crowded too, guarded by the police to make sure that no one disobeys the rules. Those rules were displayed on huge boards, saying that it is not allowed to climb up due to unfortunte deaths in recent years. So it is not possible to go up to the other levels and every one dips their feet into the same pond next to the road. Also it says No Bikini, which gave the mortal blow to this destination. Indeed, I realized there were only men in the water, and the women, fully dressed, only dipped their feet in the pool.
Hence, we needed another place to swim and after consulting some locals we went for the Dragonfly Falls. Getting there takes a 20 min drive with a Tuk-Tuk. This place is less busy, the fall has a few levels with little ponds, not deep enough for jumping but big enough for playing. And there were those little fish in the water that swim to the legs removing little particles from the skin. Actually that is very pleasant and a bit ticklish.
On the way back we stopped at Ravana Cave, curious to see that legendary place where King Ravana had hold Princess Sita captive. There is a local shop in front of the stairs leading up to the cave. The man in that shop had taken responsibility to charge tourists 150 Rupees for the climb. The ascent is quite strenuous because the stairs are not in very good condition anymore and there are a lot of them. We finally arrived in a little hole in the rock that meant to be the cave: We could not go into it very much as it is rather small, the floor is slippery and it’s all dark. Disappointed we turned back. This place was not worth a single step.
Little Adams Peak & Nine Arch Bridge
The famous Nine Arch Bridge is only a 2km walk away from Ella towards east. We chose the jungle path for its natural beauty, starting left hand side of the B113 just behind the Forest Home Stay. The times to visit the bridge are the times when there is a train crossing. When we arrived there shortly after 11:00 and waited, together with many other spectators, for the train at 11:50.
The construction of the bridge was completed in 1923, it is about 90m long, bended and 25m high, arching over a valley with a little stream below and tea plantations on one side and the cloud forest on the other side. This beautiful green surrounding and the graceful architecture of the bridge make it so much worthwhile to visit.
After another 2km hike south from the bridge there is Little Adams Peak. As the sacred Adams Peak, this smaller version also has stairs leading up to the top, but far less. Half way up there is a Zip Line but we skipped it due to its pricing of 20$ per person. On top a Buddha statue awaits the dedicated wanderer, and besides that, a stunning view at the surrounding landscape including Ella Rock in the southwest. Apart from that, like on Ella rock, an old man waits for the thirsty and the tired to provide cool water and ice cream. It is a wonderful place to be, to spend time, to enjoy the wonderful view, feel the little breeze and relax.
Liptons Seat and Diyaluma Falls
Our wonderful host family from the Little Paradise suggested to visit Liptons Seat, and agreed to come with us for a day out. So all eight of us went in a big van the 30km south to see Lipton seat and the surrounding tea plantations and also to visit the tea factory. Our host father is a skilled Tuk-Tuk driver, hence he took us all the way up through impressive landscape of tea plantations on a narrow winding road to the highest point, 1431m above sea level. Obviously it was at this place it was, where Sir Thomas Lipton stood and decided to trade tea. The outlook is spectacular. It is certainly better in the morning, because when we arrived at about noon, we already had some of the daily haze hiding the more distant locations, but still impressive. There is a staute of Mr. Lipton sitting on a bench and a 360° outlook with such an outstanding view hat I thought it would allow to see the ocean in the south – but did not. I think it is one of Sri Lankas most breathtaking views! We had a cup of excellent tea up there and could watch the tea pluckers working in the endless waves of the green ocean of tea leaves, breathing in a faint odour of the tea plants.
The story tells that Sir Thomas Lipton visited Sri Lanka in the late 1800’s and fell in love with the beauty and freshness of the island. He got inspired by an unprecedented journey of tea in Sri Lanka and acquired his first estate, the Dambatenne estate. His business turned out to be very successful due to his legendary marketing innovations and revolutionized the accessibility of tea to everyone. Until today Lipton Tea sources their tea partly from this estate.
We visited the Dambatenne Tea Factory where we learned about the hard work of the tea pluckers and the art to create a huge variety of black and white tea. As it was Monday there was no production going on because people do not work on Sundays. So we were allowed to take pictures. The tea pluckers pick only the new and youngest leaves from the plant, put in big bags which they carry on their backs and tied around their heads. Each bag gets filled with 10kg of tea leaves, two of them are to be filled per day. The salary for this hard work is 750 Rupees, if they do more another 40 Rupees will be added per kilo. Tea pluckers are not only women but also men. When we were there the first bags full of freshly plucked tea leaves came in. Impressively, the factory has a very high standard of work ethics and is engaged in environmental protection and sustainable production.
To finalize the day we went to the impressive Diyaluma Falls. They are not far from Liptons seat but without the guidance of our host family we might not have found it. From the parking area it is quite some hike through the forest on a steep narrow path until the upper parts of the falls can be reached. But is is worth it, these falls were the best of all, an absolute highlight for fun, relaxation, refreshment and natural beauty. The falls have different levels, the water has created a pond on each level that is big and deep enough to swim and even to jump into it from the level above. But be warned, the jump is dangerous as it needs the knowledge where it is deep enough to avoid ending up on a rock. Also, climbing up on the slippery rocks is not everyones cup of tea. But Diyaluma also has ponds with calm and shallow waters for less crazy people. The rushing waters have washed out the rocks creating interesting shapes until finally the water tumbles over the cliffs edge to fall endlessly into the deep. Diyaluma measures 220m and with that it is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.